Sunday, January 24, 2010

FOCO-MOCA Simplexity

This month (and next) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Fort Collins:
"Balancing Plasmas Generated by Magnetic Field Pressure"
Or something of that nature. It's part of the new exhibit at the FoCo-MoCa called "The Mind and All it Creates" by artist Todd Siler.

There's a "Lithium Blanket" in there somewhere!

"Whereas conventional solid plasma-facing materials for a magnetic fusion blanket’s first wall restrict maximum power density and require frequent replacement, a liquid has no crystal structure to be damaged by thermal stress or neutron bombardment. To advance objectives of higher power density and reduced maintenance, thick liquid flowing walls blanket concepts eliminate solid plasma-facing materials and instead present a liquid free-surface directly to the plasma with no intervening solid material. One thick liquid concept is the Electromagnetically Restrained (EMR) Lithium Blanket, in which an approximately one meter thick shell of liquid lithium metal almost completely surrounds a fusioning tokamak’s toroidal plasma discharge, absorbing plasma particles, neutrons and other radiations while breeding tritium and collecting high temperature heat for power generation."1

I believe "Lithium Blanket" would make a great name for a rock band. (It's also interesting that a guy named "Woolley" came up with the idea). Dr. Siler will be back in town for the next "First Friday" gallery walks to help answer some of my questions I should think.
1 Woolley, et al.

Extended coverage of FoCo-MoCa continues:

In the utility room of FoCo-MoCa

Levels and Hammers!
Just like I have at home. Apparently they don't use those Laser Picture Level gadgets to hang artwork.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Truth About Sex

Yet another Science Cafe

with Dr. Gerald Callahan

This evening it was CSU Professor Jerry Callahan from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology & sometimes the English department.

Jerry with some hand-outs

"When it comes to sex, it's not all black and white." The evening hand-outs were illustrations from this artical taken from the New England Journal of Medicine. WARNING! They are a bit graphic, so be warned!

The lecture was at Dempsey's in Old Town Fort Collins which has been a mystery to us because whenever we pass by Dempsey's at night, the place looks dead. We usually see just the bartender talking to the kitchen help and NO CUSTOMERS! The Science Cafe packed them in, but when the lecture was over, the place was vacant! Very strange.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Berthoud at night

and more telescopes!
Dr. Andrea Schweizer
Back in February we saw Dr. Schweizer at the Science Cafe talk about the International Year of Astronomy. The other night she was at the Little Thompson Observatory to help build the Galileo Telescope kit.

On the way to the big telescope!
They put out a light rope so you could find your way at night. It's pretty dark on the south side of Berthoud, but that's a good thing!

18" Cassegrain telescope
We were hoping to look out of the retired 24-inch Mount Wilson telescope that was recently moved to the observatory earlier this year, but the mirror was being refurbished and the mount needed rebuilding, so we won't see it in operation until sometime next year.

People came in to build telescopes!

Some actually took a look at the manual!

The observatory in daylight.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nobody told me there was going to be math


They said there was going to be pie!

Did you know that in 430 BC, Hippias (460 BC–400 BC) of Elis (in the Peloponnese, Greece), a contemporary of Socrates, discovered the quadratrix, a curve he used for trisecting an angle.

Dr. Meroney

Here we have Dr. Robert Meroney, Emeritus Professor of Engineering at CSU presenting his multimedia tribute to all that is pi; the history, humor, poems, limericks, and trivia. Of course he meant this pi: π not the other kind. The one that is a number that is about: 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510. Not the pie you can eat!

Oh, they had pie! Real pie!

All part of Fort Collins' Poudre River Public Library 'Eclectic Nights' series!

Dr. Meroney likes computer simulations. Check out this lava lamp demo of a fluid model desktop toy.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


@ the Observatory!
East of where we live they have this domed building
Well, it is the international year of astronomy and I did say I was going to look up in the sky from time to time. We stopped by one evening to look at Jupiter and Uranis and a few star clusters that just happened to be overhead.

Celestron C-14 optical tube and Bisque Paramount ME mount
We've been inside Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin and although this was much smaller, it seemed cozy in a way, if that's proper for an observatory.

Stargazing via computerized tracking!
We found out that there was an even larger telescope in Berthoud, so it looks like we get to go to Berthoud (again!) and take a look at the heavens via a different eyepiece.

1/2 a block south: Saturn!
Saturn was not viewable that night, but there is a park nearby that has planets strewn around on the ground. (I didn't check to see if somebody took off with Pluto)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Discovery Sale!

Science on the move!
The science center is moving and everything must go!

... including this video head scanner!

We put Duncan Madog's head in the scanner! What a good dog!

They had books about dinosaurs and other good stuff!

... and these neat dinosaur pictures on plywood!
We got a few items before they closed; even Duncan found a pair of wings! I asked if they were getting rid of any of the live insects. No! They are keeping them for the new museum!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Research @ the old Power Plant

North of Fort Collins there was
this old coal burning power plant

and this is how it looks today.

It's now called the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) and these folks from CSU were on hand to show us around!

"Let's take a look at what we have at the EECL"

They test third world cooking stoves and retrofit them for cleaner and more efficient operation! OK, but where are the engines!

Now this is an engine!
This sucker is a Cooper-Bessemer GMV-4TF natural gas engine. It has 4 cylinders with a 140 liter displacement and has a rated speed of 300 rpm!

...and here's the old 6-cylinder Waukesha VGF F18GL!
This guy has an 18 liter displacement with a rated speed of 1800 rpm. It's been upgraded with a laser ignition system and pre-combustion chamber (Nat. Gas fuel).

oh, and there are a few John Deer diesel engines out back.

They have this truck called a hydraulic hybrid. Check this animation to find out more.

You can find this fountain near the front of the building

Erected by the Works Progress Administration

It looks like the employees and students like to BBQ near the fountain!

Out back, they're growing algae
It's called a closed system photo-bioreactor and it is used for biofuel production: ethanol, methane, hydrogen, oh, and natural gas to run those engines noted above! So we have solar energy converting to chemical energy converting to mechanical energy converting to electrical energy I guess?


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

See Oh Too Mysteries

We met another physicist:
Dr. Arlyn Andrews of NOAA ESRL, Boulder

Dr. Andew's job is to measure and understand the sources and sinks of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), and Carbon Monoxide (CO) in North America and in adjacent ocean regions.
Mysteries to solve:
1)What is the carbon balance of North America and adjacent oceans? What are the geographic patterns of fluxes of CO2, CH4, and CO? How is the balance changing over time?
2)What processes control the sources and sinks of CO2, CH4, and CO, and how do the controls change with time?
3)Are there potential surprises where sources increase or sinks disappear?
4)How can we enhance and manage long-lived carbon sinks, and provide resources to support decision makers?
So, forget about the global warming debate! The real problem is Ocean acidification caused by the uptake of anthropogenic see oh too!   Hell, I even knew that!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Oh look, I found a VOR

From the sky:
It's neat looking! But what is it?

It's a VHF Omni Range (VOR) ground station, of course!
Or perhaps it is simply an antenna for communicating with space aliens! It looks pretty neat, but the sign says to stay away and since I left my tin-foil hat a home, I didn't get too close!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Angels and Demons at CSU

We saw the movie:
Then we went to a lecture!
Did you know that parts of Angels and Demons were actually filmed in the Large Hadron Collider at the European particle physics laboratory CERN? ...And that there's no way Vittoria Vetra, played by Ayelet Zurer in the movie could have held antimatter in that small container. ...and yes, the antimatter really could have blown-up Rome!

Dr. Miguel Mostafa
Dr. Mostafa is a Professor at Colorado State University and an expert on ultra high energy cosmic rays! He was nice enough to tell us all about antimatter and stuff! There is a particle physics community in Fort Collins! 

So, what is antimatter? What does the Large Hadron Collider do? Why do particle physicists do what they do?

Dr. Mostafa explained it all! 
After the lecture, we met with some of the professors and made them feel welcome to the non-physicist community. We hope they take a break from their cosmic ray detectors and meson accelerators once in a while and do this again!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Larry's Bowling Ball Arsenal

This weekend our friend Larry came to visit:
He had finished part of a senior pro bowling tournament in Las Vegas.  I never owned a bowling ball, and I assumed that good bowlers owned their own ball and had a nice bag to carry it in.  It appears that professional bowlers have bowling ball bags that hold three balls at a time, and they may bring several bags to a tournament! Looks like Larry has at least 15 bowling balls in his trunk!

Larry the professional bowler standing next to his arsenal


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Arthropod Diversity at the University!

At the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity.
Few people know the location of this museum. It gets moved around a lot! Even the CSU Entomology department website says it's in the Plant Science Building. I found it in the 128 year-old Laurel Hall building, where the international student office is located.

There are millions of specimens here. I chose to look at the order Odonata, or dragonflies and damselflies.  I'm sure I'll be back and have a look at Diptera, lepidoptera, and hemiptera.
As a certified Bugman, I was welcome to view any part of the collection and borrow books, collection equipment and/or loose insect parts.  
FYI, We saw C.P.Gillette last year here.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CSU Junk

It's for sale:
Used furniture, computers, and old lab equipment. A bunch of coffee servers from food service.
Luckily I didn't see anything I wanted to buy, but there is an auction four times a year that might be interesting.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Burning Questions

at the Poudre School District Science Fair
Does the Hg get higher as you go North of FoCo?

What worms eat depends in part on where they live. Worms can live closer to the surface or much deeper underground. On the surface, worms eat a variety of organic materials, such as dead grass and leaves that have fallen from the trees. There are microscopic organisms that live on these leaves. These organisms provide the worm with a variety of algae, fungi and bacteria that are essential for the worm’s diet. OK, that's more than I want to know!

This kid is asking for trouble!

Don't cha' just hate it when you buy expensive microwave popcorn and there are kernels still un-popped?

Alright! Something about physics!

Do full-spectrum bulbs really prevent cavities?

What? No samples?

By Johann Kjeldahl

Best of Show.  NaOH + CO2 ---> NaHCO3

Best Question: Is Your Dog Smarter Than A Guinea Pig?

As a science fair judge for more then 25 years at Chicago Public Schools, I just couldn't resist checking out this year's entries at the Poudre schools.  I was happy to see there wasn't anything too goofy.  I commend the science teachers at Poudre schools and hope to see more in the future. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Population Program at the Stonehouse Grille

At another Science Cafe':

Tonight we learned about migration patterns of Latin Americans from Mexico,  Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. It was part of Beet Street's Finding Home Sharing the Journey of our Collective Immigration, a month-long celebration of our community’s patchwork heritage.  Today's lecture was given by Dr. Riosmena:

Dr. Fernando Riosmena
He's the Assistant Professor of Geography and Faculty Associate at the Population Program, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, Boulder.
The venue for tonight was on the second floor of the Stonehouse Grille. Too bad there was so much noise from the restaurant population below! I'm sure it seemed like a great location, but tonight it was a little hard to follow.  Sure, the Elk's Club is old and dingy, but at least the members don't get rowdy until they start up the bowling alley at 8:00!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The College of Matt and Science

Oh, sure, the sign says "Play with the Toys!"; Why Not?
It's a funny little store in Old Town.

Did I say little store? The floor space is only 6 by 12 feet!

You could spend a lot of time here if you're not claustrophobic !
"I can has some toys, No? Pleeeze, Jeanne; Lemme buy just one more toy! I be good. Promise!"

The guy who owns it is named Matt Hannifin
He can explain in easy to understand words how each toy works! Here he's explaining the physics behind a gyroscope to an 11 year old.

No, this is not another one of those infamous 'Bong' pictures!
Matt has spent some time in Australia and learned how to play a didgeridoo just like the Aborigines do the didgeridoo too!  

And boomerangs! He loves boomerangs.  Illustrates Bernoulli's principle it does!
Also Operator of the following: Hot air & Helium balloons, laser shows and fireworks displays.  Speaks six languages, has degrees in laser electro-optics, taught college prep physics and chemistry and, least but not last, can ride a unicycle.  Knows about Edmond Scientific and American Science and Surplus! Anyone who knows about these fine American institutions must be legit!

I couldn't resist putting in this sound track!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Galileo !

Dude's 445 Years old today!
Galileo Galilei

In recognition of Galileo's achievements some 400 years ago, we went to a lecture given by Dr. Andrea Schweitzer, project manager for the US - IYA, or the United States International Year of Astronomy!

Dr. Andrea Schweitzer

The IYA 2009 team has chosen various projects for us low-life amateur spacemen and spacewomen to perform. 

With this in mind, we do hereby solemnly state:

WHEREAS the year 2009 is the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first observations through a telescope; and

This year has been chosen as the worldwide International Year of Astronomy (IYA); and

The IYA is encouraging people to experience the excitement of personal discovery much like when Galileo did when he looked though his telescope for the first time; and
The Roadside Mysteries blog has from time to time reported on astronomical mysteries from the roadside.

NOW THEREFORE, the blog entitled Roadside Mysteries, and all of its acting agents and contributers to wit, as a result of the above-noted situation and the fact that the authors are generally of a geek based nature, does hereby proclaim that the blog will continue reporting events of other-worldly nature and help support the IYA by contributing in various ways and reporting on this blog at least once per month. We believe Galileo would have wanted it this way.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Umami Tsunami

A lecture on Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences?
Here Dr. Sue C. Kinnamon from the CSU Department of Biomedical Sciences tells us about what's new in taste.

She likes to talk about G protein, T1R receptors, immunocytochemistry and stuff like that.

It was our first "Science Cafe". Very interesting indeed!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shrooms with Kevin

Kevin Cook was back again to tell us that there are these eukaryotic organisms living all over Colorado!
...and that they are heterotrophic organisms possessing a chitinous cell wall, the majority of which grow multicellular filaments called hyphae forming a mycelium!
In short order, the amount of information from this lecture began to mushroom! a full house of Fort Collins residents.

LOL! Here's one of my favorite basidiomycots!

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Green Art & Climate Change

At the Museum of Contemporary Art: The Magnolia Tapestry Project

Dr. Scott Denning, Atmospheric scientist
We were at the museum for a special show: Art, Science, Connect, Sustain
We saw various examples of environmental art projects presented by Lynne Hull, and two CSU specialists in environmental science (one of them was Dr. Denning pictured above).

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And more wildlife, Phylum: Mollusca

Colorado Bivalves
Wildlife biologist Kevin Cook was on hand today to talk about all he knows about glochidia!
Of the 30K known bivalves, there are about 42 species of glochidia in Colorado! Some of them are Republicans.

Then of course, there's the Giant Floater! 
<> "Sweet!" < /Cartman >

plus more stuff than you would want to know about the inside of a clam.

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